Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sketching birds

Hi everybody

Cathy Johnson has invited me to join this blog and I was delighted to accept. I live in Rome, Italy, and I always enjoyed drawing, especially nature and wildlife. I suppose anyone who loves drawing from nature enjoyes plein air sketching and drawing from life. When I work ringing birds I have the chance to see up close and hold these creatures for a few brief moments. I can touch their feathers, feel their weight, understand how they move, etc. These are all details that help me drawing and representing the animal later, maybe when working from a photo. In this case, after a brief sketch I kept a couple of feathers for later reference. European nightjars feed after sunset or during the night and catch insects on the wing. Their bills appear small when closed, but their gape is huge and opens wide to catch their flying prey.

I never go anywhere without a sketchbook. The quantity and diversity of wildlife existing in this large town, alongside so many people, never ceases to amaze me and I always seem to find something interesting to draw. And, when it's not wildlife, then architecture, or people make fantastic subjects. This morning while walking my dog by the river Tiber, I encountered this young Yellow-legged gull. For some reason, it could not fly. These gulls are scavengers and will eat anything, so it might have been slighthly intoxicated. I checked its wings and they were fine, no broken bones, it looked alert, so I hid it in the grass and sketched it. I applied the colour later, at home. Wild animals are sooo beautiful! I sat very close to him, and he was fine with that. Yellow-legged gulls don't get stressed much, they are used to people and quickly understand whether you represent a danger or not.

This year it's the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's On The Origin of Species and I am enjoying all events held in its commemoration! I recently visited an exhibiton here in Rome, featuring live and stuffed animals (like these fancy pigeons), wax models and video clips to illustrate his theory on evolution. I spent a few happy hours there too. I also enjoyed looking at Darwin's notebooks. I think keeping a nature journal is a great tool if you want to learn about natural history. I'd like to thank Cathy for creating this blog. It's so inspiring, a bit like a nature journal from all over the world.


  1. Welcome! And glad to meet you. Your sketches are wonderful!

  2. Beautiful, beautiful work, Barbara, I'm so glad you agreed to join us. It's nice to get a peek at nature in Italy, as well!

  3. Incredibly sensitive, expressive work! I swear that top nightjar is looking at you with strong suspicion!

  4. Hi Barbara! Your drawings are amazing. I remember going to a local art display in a village in England and all the participants put their JOURNALS for display in the centre of the room on a table. I think I was more thrilled by having the privilege of going through the pages than by the finished work hanging on the wall. This blog is kind of like that.
    I look forward to more of your beautiful work.

  5. It's so nice to meet you and experience your beautiful work! These are wonderful studies; you seem very connected to your subjects.

  6. It's amazing to see the variations of styles with which people depict the natural world around them--these are stunning! I agree--I'm glad Kate started this blog, too!


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